March 18, 2020

My Own (Stupid) True Crime Experience (a writing prompt)

This is something I've been wanting to write about ever since it happened, but I think I've just been embarrassed about my naivety about the whole situation. Looking back, I just think how stupid it was of me!

Now I'm second guessing myself--maybe I did write about this? I can't remember. Sorry if you've already read about it.

I don't have any photos to share for this post, so I'll just include this photo of Joey judging me for my naivety. We call Joey "The Sheriff" because of the way he (tries to) keep the cats in line. This is his serious "sheriff" face when he asks a tough question.

The following incident happened before I got really into true crime podcasts, so I'll use that as a bit of an excuse for my actions ;)

So, a few years ago, it was nighttime (I think about 9:00 pm--I remember it was dark outside.) Jerry went out front with Joey to let him go pee, and a minute later, I heard him talking to someone. He came inside to get our phone and said there was a girl outside that needed to make a call.

I looked outside, and she looked about 15 years old or so. I told her to come in and of course she could use the phone. She had a small backpack with her, and she seemed flustered. She made a few calls, but nobody picked up on the other end. She asked if we could give her a ride to a nearby neighborhood (about five miles away).

I didn't want Jerry doing it, because being an adult man driving a teen girl... well, who knows what she might say later? We didn't know her. So, I said I would drive her (we'll call her Jessica--I don't remember her real name). She got in the car and as we drove down the street, I noticed flashlights in the woods/marsh across the street from my house. She seemed nervous about it, and I asked her if everything was okay.

She replied that she and her friend (we'll call her friend "Rachel") were going to another friend's house, because Rachel's stepdad was abusing Rachel. I can't remember all the details now, but she told me the story about the abuse and that they were going to go to another friend's house until Rachel's stepdad calmed down. She said she got separated from her Rachel, and that Rachel's stepdad was out looking for her.

When I turned the car onto the road that leaves the peninsula, I noticed two police cars parked on the side of the road with their lights on. She kind of panicked and ducked down to the floor in front of the seat. I got pretty uncomfortable at that point, but I wasn't driving her far (it was walkable, but I didn't think she should be walking that far at night by herself, so I wanted to help--besides, the abuse story made me feel bad).

She said Rachel's stepdad had called the police to look for her, so they were searching the woods. I continued to the neighborhood and Jessica directed me to her friend's house. She wanted to use my phone (and of course the battery was nearly dead). She wasn't able to get a hold of anyone as we were idling outside of the house. And then the phone died.

A truck heading toward us threw her into a panic. She ducked down again and said, "Go go go!" directing me to drive away. At that point, I just wanted her out of my car. I had no idea what was going on, but it was really making me uncomfortable. She was in a panic and kept telling to just drive. As it turns out, it was Rachel's stepdad in his truck, looking for his stepdaughter.

Finally, she told me to take her to a different house. She said it was a family that she used to live with a couple of years prior. I dropped her off and made sure she made it inside before I left.

(Now, I know you're all seeing this as sheer stupidity on my part! In retrospect, I totally agree with you.)

I was relieved that the whole situation was over! I just wanted to go home.

An hour or so later, I got a call from a boy who said he was Jessica's boyfriend. He kept thanking me for bringing her over there, saying that he was super worried about her when no one had heard from her. I felt a little relieved after that, knowing that she was at least with someone familiar and out of danger.

Well, a few days later, I saw a post on Facebook--a friend had shared a "missing" flyer on her wall, and I recognized the girl as "Jessica". My stomach dropped and my heart was pounding and I was in utter shock. It said she was missing since that night I'd picked her up. I couldn't believe that I might have been the last person to see her. And I even gave her a ride.

I immediately called the police--the number on the flyer--and talked to the detective who was handling the case. He asked me a bunch of questions about where I dropped her off, and he said he would look into it. He seemed a little angry with me when I told him all that had happened.

As I'm sure you've guessed by now, there was no "Rachel". Jessica had made up that story about her "friend" so that I wouldn't suspect that she was running away and that the police were looking for her. What the detective told me was that she got in an argument with her stepdad and while she was in her bedroom, she cut the screen in her window and ran away. The stepdad called the police, who came to look for her.

And I, like a total idiot, drove her out of there!

The detective called me later and thanked me (he also apologized for sounding harsh at my ignorance). He said they checked the house that I described and that they found her. She was sent to a juvenile detention facility, because I guess she'd been in trouble before.

A few days later, Jerry was doing yard work when he found a bag in the bushes at our house. It was a canvas bag with a drawstring. We opened it and there were clothes as well as a couple of framed photos--Jessica was in the photos, so I'm assuming she was taking them with her as mementos when running away.

I'm guessing that when she saw the cops looking for her, she dropped one of her bags in the bushes to come back for later. I called the detective again, and he came to pick up the bag. He said that Jessica was a trouble teen and very manipulative.

I still wonder about this sometimes... what if she was telling the truth about the abuse? When I asked the detective about it, he said that if I suspect abuse, I should tell the police because they would handle it.

However, I've called CPS a couple of times and it was never handled. I witnessed a little boy being beaten at a Walmart and I called the police (I wrote down the license plate number, and after waiting over an hour, the police showed up). The police didn't take it seriously at all--they assumed that it was "just a spanking" or something, and looked at me like I was just stupid. But the father (I'm assuming it was his father) was punching the boy in the back as the boy lay on the ground curled up and covering his head.

That's fucking abuse. Straight up.

(I wrote the story about it on my blog here)

A couple of summers ago, I called the police again about a little boy that wandered to our house to ask for water because he was locked out of his house (this was about 8PM). The police came and didn't do anything--they took the boy home, said the house reeked of urine (just like the little boy did--he was covered in either dirt or bruises, I couldn't tell which, and he smelled terrible) but that because there was food in the house, he couldn't really do anything.

I was so mad. I called CPS and they took a long time asking me questions. A few weeks later, I got a letter in the mail from CPS saying that the family was already brought to their attention by a few other people and that they were "looking into it". (I didn't write much detail on this, because of the sensitivity of the case, but you can read the gist here)

This is totally off topic, but a follow up about the boy who came looking for water. A couple of months later, I was cleaning the garage (all the doors open) when I saw him dart from his backyard to the neighbor's yard and hide behind a tree. Then he ran across the alleyway to our house and ducked into the garage with me really quickly.

He was very interested in what I was doing (sweeping) and said he would help me clean. I told him no, he doesn't have to help me clean, but there were some Army guys (toys) that he could play with if he wanted. He told me that he can't let his grandma see him playing, so he wondered if he could play with them in the garage. I told him that was fine.

Noah and Eli came out to the garage to get a popsicle from the freezer and I asked the boy if he wanted one. He looked really indecisive and finally asked me if I had any "clear" ones. I was confused, and asked what he meant. He said that he didn't want any color to be on his mouth because his grandma would be really mad at him for having a popsicle and she'd wonder where he got it. My heart just broke for him. (He was so young--too young to worry about that!)

I gave him a pink one, which was practically clear, and I said that I'd make sure it wasn't on his mouth when he went home. He kept asking me if I wanted him to help me clean, because his grandma made him clean the house and he was "really good at it".

I didn't see him again after that. Their yard was always very unkempt with random toys everywhere, and they had dogs that would run loose, but I didn't see the kids.

Anyway, that was a big tangent from my post. I just wanted to write that I don't have confidence in the police or CPS when it comes to these situations. (Again, another reason I'd love to be a foster parent!)

So, the story of Jessica is my own "true crime" story--and I'm so glad it ended okay. I can't imagine if she had been kidnapped or murdered or something horrible like that. I certainly learned a lesson that day, and will act differently if anything like that should ever happen again.

I do have one other true crime story, but it's a doozie, and I'm not sure how to write about it. I will work on it during this "social distancing" if I can and post it later.

Anyone else have an interesting "true crime" story that relates to you? I am obsessed with true crime, and I'd love to read about it!


  1. I actually have a few but here's one:

    When I was in high school, my Dad was at convenience store one morning using a pay phone when this girl came running up from down the road, screaming "My Aunt is dead! I have to call my boyfriend!"

    My Dad said "What? Your Aunt is... dead? Are you sure? Let's call 911!" She insisted her Aunt was not just dead but murdered and she had to call her boyfriend but my Dad refused. He called 911 and told them what she had said and she seemed reluctant but gave her address. A cruiser came to pick her up and the cop talked to my Dad a bit and left.

    Well, shortly after, this was all over the paper. This girl, who was a high school classmate of mine, lived with her Aunt. Her Aunt hated her boyfriend and wouldn't let her see him. They fought, she got angry, grabbed her Aunt's gun and shot her. She was running to the convenience store to call her boyfriend to come pick her up so they could run away. My Dad interfered. A detective called him once but she pled guilty so it didn't go to trial.

  2. I think you're right not to trust the police on that. I have acquaintances who are social workers or worked with at-risk youths—these teenagers are often labeled as trouble makers and get penalized for lying or getting in trouble instead of receiving the support they need. Nobody runs away from home in such a panic for no good reason, even if they don't tell the truth about it... We should trust our girls and their motives more, even if it's hard to understand their actions. It's so so hard to speak up about abuse and get help anyway. I truly hope Jessica is better now!

    The story about the boy is also heartbreaking. It's frustrating that even with vigilant and caring neighbors like you who alert the authorities families don't get better support.

    The only thing approaching a true crime story that ever happened to me was that one time when I was leaving the apartment building I grew up in, two men walked in who looked like gangsters—one was skinny and mean looking, smoking in the lobby, and the other was bigger and looked like a thug. They went up to one of the apartments and started banging on the door really hard. I felt bad about letting them into the building and went back up the stairs and asked them what was going on, but they wouldn't answer me. I was a teenager at the time and don't remember exactly what I did, but I think I called the police when I left. No clue what ever that was or what happened to them!

  3. She sounds like my daughter. It was long ago and we have no relationship now. She lied to everybody about me and they believed her, not me. I tried to pick her up from school and they wouldn't let her come with me. I was met by a social worker who was so rude and yelled at me. She said my poor daughter cried all day 'cause I told her she was ugly on her birthday. I denied it. I called her my "Angle" I told her she was beautiful and she could be Miss Teen USA. We were poor and got NO CHILD SUPPORT. She ran away every night to her classmates house. I would go to get her and the other parents wanted her to stay with them. They to believed I was a horrible mother. I had her a week after my 16th birthday and wanted to do the right thing, keep her. raise her, love her. I regret doing that because all she wanted was lots of money and did all she could to get it.

  4. Here is my story....Years ago my husband and I were sleeping and at about 3 am the doorbell started ringing. I ran down the steps first with my robe while my husband got dressed. I looked out the window and saw a young woman there (maybe 17 years old) and she wasn't dressed from the waist up. I opened the door as we have a locking screen door. She immediately started saying, please help me, I need to come in. So I let her in and I had blouses that I kept in my closet downstairs for ironing so I quickly gave her one to put on. She seemed drugged up and very scared. My husband came downstairs and we called the police as she wasn't making any sense. They came and she lived down the street in one of the rental homes. They said, they would handle everything and never really told us what was going on but brought her back home and left her with her family. Then at about 5 am she was back at my door. We called police again and they took her to a psychiatric ward. I never heard anything beyond that. Of course my husband read me the riot act for letting a complete stranger who was half naked in my house. On the lighter side, for a while after the situation we use to say to each other "I see naked people"!

  5. It's really really easy to be manipulated by teenagers. Some of them have been doing it their whole lives. Don't be too hard on yourself!

  6. You posted a guest blog about my PTSD from the Robert Pickton trial last year; that's definitely my most famous true crime experience :).

  7. I could see both sides of what maybe was happening. Hopefully you really did help her get away from an abusive situation.


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